Tuesday, November 15

What do the WZO Elections mean for rural (and specifically Montana) Jewry?

Mike's post yesterday has inspired me to talk a bit about the elections now taking place for the next World Zionist Congress. In the past months, I have received literature from a few organizations, and sat through at least one sermon, dedicated to telling me why I should support one organization or another in this election.

This post will not tell you which slate to support. I am proud to be a Zionist, and I gladly support the State of Israel. However, I do not know enough about the various slates running to be able to even give readers a roadmap about the issues and ideologies behind the various slates. In upcoming weeks, I hope to learn more, and I hope to post more information about what result might come from a vote for a particular slate.

As in many of my less religiously oriented posts, I am very concerned with shalom bayit, or peace in our homes. While a scramble for control of dollars naturally inflames divisions, Jews have more that unite us than divide us.

Montana Jews have benefited from Jewish Agency dollars. For the past several years, an organization called Soultrain, in the past at least partially funded by the Jewish Agency, has sent Jewish cultural personalities and events to rural Jewish communties throughout the world. In our State, the organization has sponsored Jewish film festivals, shabbatonim, youth camps and torah studies. In just the past year, many Jewish communties in Montana have benefitted from two children's camps run by Soultrain volunteers, a brilliant Purim shpiel by Israeli mime Ofer Goren, and a moving concert by Israeli folk rock star Yehuda Katz.

Whatever slate you support, we need to make sure that the rural diaspora is not forgotten by the WZO. While most non-Israeli Jews live in huge metropolitan areas, Judaism still thrives in rural communities. As a Montana Jew, ensuring the future of such support is more important to me than prolonging fights that tear down our shalom bayit.

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